"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Portrait #15—The Sleeping Beauty

Posted in 50 Portraits Project (2013), Photography, Portraits, Preemptive Love Coalition by matt on Saturday, April 13, 2013

A photo of The Sleeping Beauty, a little Iraqi girl recovering from a lifesaving heart operation.

An Iraqi girl sleeping after her lifesaving heart operation. Tikrit, Iraq

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A year of 50 posed portraits with only one light; a project designed to improve my camera work while blessing the people I encounter. You can see older portraits here, read the rules of the project here, or leave a comment below with your feedback.

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Portrait #9—The Intensivist

Posted in 50 Portraits Project (2013), Friends, Photography, Portraits by matt on Saturday, March 2, 2013

A portrait of my friend, the pediatric intensivist.

My friend (and hero), the pediatric intensivist, Fallujah, Iraq

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A year of 50 posed portraits with only one light; a project designed to improve my camera work while blessing the people I encounter. You can see older portraits here, read the rules of the project here, or leave a comment below with your feedback.

VIDEO: “Like Landing On The Moon—Iraqi Doctors Make History In Fallujah!”

Posted in Good Causes, Portraits, Preemptive Love Coalition, Travel, Videos, Videos By Me by matt on Monday, January 14, 2013

A video documenting a first-ever heart operation for this region of Iraq.

A Shooting In Fallujah

Posted in Good Causes, Photography, Preemptive Love Coalition by matt on Friday, January 11, 2013

A photo of the roadsigns from Baghdad to Fallujah and the rest of Anbar Province.

Sorry, that headline probably gave my mother a heart attack.

To clarify: I’m in Fallujah, Iraq for our 15th Remedy Mission, and I’ve enjoyed several photo/video shoots with the local staff, the families, etc.

The stereotypes and rumors aren’t in short supply when it comes to this part of Iraq—many of which might just be true. My Kurdish friends in the north and my Shia Arab friends in the south pretty much all assume people only come here with a death wish (or because they think I’m CIA), but my experience of the city so far hasn’t lent credence to that fear.

Granted, we’re staying in a dorm room inside the walled-in hospital complex that has guards surrounding it and we aren’t allowed to enter the city, but most people have been courteous—even friendly—to us.

I think it’s interesting how Iraqis in the south, center, and north have similar fears based on one-off anecdotes from the news and rumors they’ve heard from friends as we do in the West. I had Iraqi friends tell me they were canceling their trip to California because of Hurricane Sandy—nearly five thousand miles away!

Everyone feels afraid of the unknown sometimes—don’t think I’m smug in how I view Westerners, Iraqis, or anyone. I have all kinds of preconceived notions that help and hurt my interpretation of the world. My prayer this week, though, is that GOD would provide me with the notions of Christ—how does he view the people of Fallujah? How can I line myself up with that perspective?

If you’re reading this, I’d invite you to pray for me and for yourself; that the Lord would give all of us eyes of compassion and enemy-love—even if it means doing things that seem risky.

And, as always, thank you for standing by us as we work to minister to the people here. Your partnership means more than you know!

Much love,

Matt

P.S.—One of my favorite things about the ride into Fallujah was getting to go in an old-school ambulance!

A photo of the Iraqi ambulance that I rode into Fallujah.

4 Awesome Things I’m Reading Right Now

Posted in Day-To-Day, Good Causes, Preemptive Love Coalition, Stuff I'm Reading by matt on Thursday, January 3, 2013

These days, my clipboard is uncharacteristically free of to-do lists. I’ve barely left my neighborhood in weeks. I’m sedentary and stressless. It’s a great time to read. 

Aside from a couple video projects and Preemptive Love’s year-end fundraising campaign, I’ve had a good bit of free time to catch up on all my books, RSS feeds, and bookmarked articles. And—thanks to Instapaper—my ‘to-read’ list is quite a doozy.

Here are 4 of my favorite things from the list and why I’d recommend them:

#1) BLOG: Coppyblogger—the king of writing blogs; if you have any interest in improving your writing, I’d highly recommend this site. I subscribed last year and have used them more as a referential source for whenever I have questions about a particular genre of writing. But they cover it all: Social Media, marketing, blogging—even letter-writing. Their Copywriting 101 guide is a great place to start, but it’s really all quality (though I didn’t love their newsletter). And most of it is free. If I’ve managed to get anyone’s attention with my writing over the past couple of years, it’s probably because of these guys. Go check ’em out.

#2) BOOK: The Kingdom of God Is Within You—written by Leo Tolstoy, the book heavily emphasizes nonviolent resistance and Christ’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. Like Kierkegaard, Tolstoy is disgusted by the blended church-state entities of his day, and he is more than willing to sink his teeth into them—particularly when it comes to their acquiescence to violence and war (his book was banned in his home country of Russia and was first published in Germany).

Tolstoy is relentless in this simple belief: a Christian cannot follow and support both God’s new governance according to the Sermon on the Mount and a government that perpetuates violence. For me, this generates questions over the difference between ‘submitting’ to a government and ‘supporting’ it, how do we read Romans 13 in relation to the Sermon on the Mount, etc. Very interesting stuff.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

“A virtue cannot be practiced in all circumstances without self-sacrifice, privation, suffering, and in extreme cases loss of life itself. But he who esteems life more than fulfilling the will of God is already dead to the only true life.”

“Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world?”

#3) EBOOK: DSLR Cinematography Guide—the video capabilities of DSLRs went from nothing to holy-crap in about 2 years. I’ve made a few little short videos with these magical machines, and I’m quite impressed. Still photography is fun, but if you’re willing to put in the work, a short video is a phenomenal way to tell a story. So I’m hoping this Ebook will provide a little growth spurt for me as I create videos for PLC’s Remedy Missions. Stay tuned for more videos in 2013.

#4) VIDEO: Neighborhoods—OK, so this isn’t technically ‘reading,’ but this short is really beautiful. It’s simple, it’s low-budget, and it’s worth a couple minutes of your day—I’ve watched it more times than I can count!

 

So those are my top 4 picks right now. What about you? Comment below with recommendations of your own and help me replenish my ‘to-read’ list—I could especially use some good fiction recommendations!